Island and Ocean Ecosystems
Developed during the 2006 Pacific Year of the Sea Turtle, the Fiji Sea Turtle Recovery Plan (FSTRP) has since seen the successful implementation of several key actions, including the declaration of a 10 year Moratorium from 2009 to 2018, and the establishment of the Dau ni Vonu, a community network of now more than 80 volunteer turtle monitors.

This was revealed over a two day workshop hosted by the Department of Fisheries and WWF as stakeholders met to review and update the FSTRP given progress made, new information and emerging challenges.

The review was guided by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s Regional Marine Turtle Action Plan 2013 - 2017 which was developed and subsequently endorsed by regional members, including Fiji in 2012.

"It has been encouraging to see the level of implementation of the Fiji Sea Turtle Recovery Plan by the numerous stakeholders and we are positive that the momentum created will also carry through to the revised Plan," says Mr. Aisake Batiabasaga, Principal Research Officer at Fiji's Department of Fisheries.

"To further strengthen recovery efforts, the Department has also declared that there will be a zero issuance of harvest exemption permits during the nesting months of November to March."

Fiji Turtle
Turtle survey conducted in Ringgold, Fiji in 2010, with support from the late Mr. Lui Bell of SPREP

A key feature of the review was the alignment and streamlining of the FSTRP with other frameworks including the Regional Marine Turtle Action Plan, National Biodiversity Strategies and; Action Plans and commitments under the Convention on Migratory Species and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. 

Marine turtle populations in Fiji, as in other places, declined dramatically due to their being over-harvested or through the loss of their feeding and nesting grounds.

Through the Fiji Sea Turtle Recovery Plan, actions taken by Fiji such as the increased awareness and community engagement are only beginning to take effect after at least 10 years of effort.

This was emphasised by reports from a community turtle monitor that in the span of a 1 hour 15 minute dive, they encountered 51 turtles.